Gregg Stafford & Dr. Michael White - New Orleans
A familiar local metaphor compares New Orleans to a gumbo: start with a roux (a Rich, sturdy cooking base), then add a little of that – and soon you have a gumbo. The trick is that in a gumbo, the ingredients do not melt together, but remain distinct, yielding a rainbow of flavors and textures rather than a uniform blend. So it is with New Orleans music – a little of this, a little of that, and you have a rainbow of styles and voices.
In New Orleans jazz, the lines of the individual voices remain distinct, stacking upon one another into a dense, polyphonic whole rather than blending into a single sound. Gregg Stafford and Dr. Michael White demonstrate this phenomenon in “Bye & Bye/Saints.” Is it any wonder that the songs of marching, praising and celebrating are the theme songs of New Orleans?
Putumayo celebrates Carnival and its alter ego, Mardi Gras, the annual street parties that light up city streets from Rio to New Orleans. The history of Carnival dates back to Greek and Roman festivals, and eventually evolved into one last chance to sing, dance, and drink before Lent, 40 days of personal reflection, abstinence and fasting until Easter. The word itself comes from Latin, “Carne Vale” or “farewell to the flesh.” Carnival music reflects the reckless abandon of the event as people rush into the streets with whatever instruments they can get their hands on and join together in a group celebration. In Brazil there is samba and axe, rowdy yet melodic styles that blend African and Portuguese elements into a unique and irresistible new sound. New Orleans has second line, brass bands and Mardi Gras Indians who roam the streets strutting their stuff. In Trinidad, the streets are filled with the ringing of steel drums, calypso and pounding soca.
To get you in the Carnival/Mardi Gras spirit, here’s Gypsy Second Line, a song by Michael White, from Putumayo’s New Orleans album.